In-house leadership seeds: future leaders for UK Power Networks

It’s a busy Thursday morning at UK Power Networks, in Southwark, London.

The board meeting room, on the top floor of the building, from where you can spot the London Eye on the horizon, is filled with chatter. People are sitting in small groups around the U-shaped table. There’s no room for idleness. Keeping the lights on in London is a dynamic job, especially when you share your organisation’s high ambitions to keep being a top energy provider.

UK Power Network is a customer-oriented organisation, but at the same time the proud winner of an ‘Investors in People’ Golden accreditation. In 2016, they were featured in the Top 30 Best Big Companies to work for (2016), according to the Sunday Times. They know that excellent customer service can only be provided by excellently trained employees.

Today’s session is part of the Future Leaders bespoke programme they are running in-house. Now in its third consecutive year, the programme is accredited by ILM – at the end of it, the successful participants are awarded an ILM Level 5 in Leadership and Management. Gathered in teams, the learners are preparing their briefs for the executive team.

Good leaders are spending quality time with their teams

Matt White is the organisation’s lead power system development engineer today leads a small team of three people. During the beginning of this career with UK Power Networks in 2015, Matt has changed roles seven times and was offered training into different fields, gaining his graduate degree within the organisation.

“For me leadership is about inspiring your team, being able to listen and understand the needs of the team and the business and marry the two together. A true leader is somebody who’s approachable, has the flexibility to spend time with the team to build a relationship with them, but also gets the job done well,” he says.

Throughout the course, Matt was able to reflect on his way of dealing with different people and situations. “The course reinforced what I knew about my development areas, such as delegation and time management; making sure I spend the right amount of time planning and being with my team and some of the more strategic stuff, such as analyse a specific project by looking at all the key elements across the full spectrum from political, to commercial, to technical,” adds Matt.


Your people are part of the solution

Lynne McDonald, programme manager – distribution system operator, was awarded the Engineer of the Year Award in 2016. Lynne started her career with UK Power Networks through a graduate scheme in 2011 and since then she has continued to build her engineering but also leadership and management skills.

“I believe that it’s essential for a leader to be fair. They have to ensure that they are bringing the best in the team, by setting clear directions and empowering their people to get the best job done. However, passion is the most important asset of a leader – that’s contagious and is what drives people in and ignites the creative flow.”

During the Future Leaders programme she has had a chance to reflect on the challenges leaders are facing. “As an engineer, I tend to be over-analytical; there’s a danger of being too analytical. The course taught me how to reflect on that. Also, above all, I’ve learnt the practical tools to support me in my project work, which gave me that supporting mechanism to clearly articulate some of my team’s professional needs.”

“Another big challenge when evolving the company’s vision is that you have to bring the people with you, as they are part of the solution to the challenges you are facing. What I’ve learnt throughout the course is to actively listen, to take feedback on board and co-design solutions,” she says.

Future Leaders teams preparing for their presentation

Future-proofing with leadership training

Sarah Porcelli, head of learning and development at UK Power Networks, reflected on the importance of leadership and management training for an organisation and on why they chose ILM as their partner.

“Leaders are the one who create the culture of an organisation. They are the cogs of the whole business mechanism; it’s very important to develop tomorrow’s generation of leaders who will set the tone. I believe very strongly in the grassroots levels – we need to give people the skills they need as they progress along their career as a leader. Our focus is both up and down – but if we teach leadership to people at grassroots level, this is going to future-proof our organisation for the years to come.”

When asked why she chose ILM as their partner for their in-house leadership programme, Ms Porcelli said that it was all about providing good quality benchmarking for the employees. “We develop programmes internally but we would like them to be on the same level as the external ones. It was important to our employees to have an ILM qualification attached to our internal certification. This gives people the undisputable proof that our programme is quality-assured. And we were also impressed by ILM’s standard – it’s the most robust in the market: in terms of its qualifications, measures, benchmarking data and the support offered by ILM. It was all much better than the other awarding bodies we’ve looked into. And nonetheless, collaborating with them was brilliant, they are very responsive.”

If you are interested in expanding your leadership and management knowledge pool, for yourself or your organisation, you can get in touch with Sysco Polska, an ILM Approved centre based in Warsaw. Sysco Polska has been delivering ILM qualifications and management training in compliance with ILM standards since 2009, having trained a few thousand managers. The training provides participants with practical tools and the blend of skills, knowledge and understanding they need to deliver in their broad and complex managerial roles.

Paweł Czeszkiewicz, Business Development Director, Sysco Polska

Laura Marinica, Communications Executive, ILM

Artykuł ukazał się w magazynie Contact Online nr 36 (131) 2018 z 10.09.2018, wydawanym przez Brtittish Polish Chamber of Commerce

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